Stephen Barker couldn’t be happier about playing an important role in assisting the Marco Patriots’ Hurricane Irma relief efforts.
“We are delighted to be able to help,” said Barker, who owns The Marco Review visitors magazine, along with his wife Debbie. “Marco’s given us so much over the last 25 years, so we’re delighted to be able to give back in our time and efforts.”
The natives of Great Britain started their Go- FundMe page to benefit the Marco Patriots work on September 13, just three days after Irma made landfall in Florida.
“We’ve known Erin (Milchman) for a number of years and we saw what a good job they were doing in getting to people, and we felt that the combo of the Marco Patriots and The Marco Review with a GoFundMe campaign would be very strong,” he said.
To get the word out, Barker sent emails about the page to the business’s database of 2,000 previous visitors to Marco who requested the magazine, as well as to all users of The Marco Review app. It has also been advertised on the Marco Patriot’s Facebook page.
Christie Marcoplos, owner of the Blue Mangrove Gallery in Marco Town Center, has donated necklaces containing sand from the island to be given away for donations of more than $1,000. The necklaces retail for $190. For donations of $700 to $1,000, she donated earrings that retail for $150. Donations totaling $67,650 had been collected as of September 25.
The GoFundMe fundraising drive began with an objective of raising $25,000, a total that’s been raised to $50,000 and then $75,000.
Because the need is expected to be ongoing, “I think we’ll continue it for as long as we continue to get support,” said Barker.
He said he believes the hurricane and the damage it caused could feed an incorrect perception among some vacationers and snowbirds that Marco and its attractions won’t be ready for “the season,” dampening tourism, the region’s life’s blood.
“There are lots of workers who live week to week who are going to need help,” Barker added. The Barkers have also organized a fundraising event to benefit the Marco Patriots’ work and to celebrate all those who have volunteered in relief efforts on the island and in surrounding communities.
Entitled “A Celebration of Locals Helping Locals,” the affair will be held Oct. 1 at CJ’s on the Bay. Featured will be a long list of local musicians, including Frank Carroll, Ryan Darling, Jeff Hilt, JRobert and Martin Houghtaling, Captn. Jac, Joerey Ortiz, Ben Olson, Raiford Starke, Duncan Wheeler, Billy J and Rob, and Merrill.
CJ’s happy hour prices and a specially reduced price limited menu, as well as the regular menu will be offered. There will be prizes donated by Marco businesses and Marco Patriots t-shirts, tank tops and performance shirts, along with the Marco Review’s annual calendar will be on sale.
All proceeds will benefit the Hurricane Irma Fund, gofundme.com/886c9-marco-island-hurricane irma-fund. To make an in-kind donation, the Marco Patriots’ Amazon.com wish list can be viewed at a.co/3HetngX. Orders that will be delivered directly to the organization can also be placed on that page.